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Clavicle Fractures Treatment Options

Clavicle (collarbone) fractures are most often found in men between the ages of 30 and 50, and in both sexes over the age of 70. There are two types of clavicle fractures.

  • Midshaft fractures: The most common site of a collarbone fracture is the midshaft or the middle of the bone. This type is usually found in young, active adults under age 30, caused by direct impact to the shoulder from high energy trauma during football, contact sports, bicycling, snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
  • Distal fractures: These are fractures closer to the point on the shoulder closest to the arm. They are traumatic injuries usually caused by direct trauma to the shoulder from a low-energy fall. They are less common than mid-shaft fractures, but more often these fractures are found in older people with osteoporosis. These fractures often failure to heal even after an extended period and risk instability

What is the difference between a displaced and non-displaced fracture?

A non-displaced fracture is defined a crack in the collarbone or a break, but the bone retains proper position and alignment. A displaced fracture occurs when the bone breaks into two or more pieces and may be in alignment or out of alignment.

A displaced fracture is a gap that is created when the bone breaks into two or more pieces and are not in alignment. This creates the risk that the bone won’t heal (nonunion) and will require surgery to realign the bone pieces and surgically fix the pieces in alignment. The break may be an isolated injury or involve damage to nerves, muscles, tendons and/or ligaments.

What are the treatments for mid-shaft collarbone fractures?

Midshaft collarbone fractures are usually treated conservatively unless the fracture is displaced. If the fracture is displaced, it requires surgery to repair. The decision to treat conservatively or surgically will be made by Dr. Godin based upon the patient’s activity level and demands. Surgery may be performed as an open or arthroscopic procedure.

What are the treatments for distal collarbone fractures?

Treating distal fractures is challenging. Treatments for distal collarbone fractures may be conservative or surgical. There are many treatment options, but no gold standard has been established.

Some may be treated with conservative management but if the fracture is unstable due to damage to the ligaments, there is a risk that conservative treatment may result in nonunion or failure to heal. In addition, some of these fractures also cause damage to or dislocation of the shoulder joint. In these circumstances surgery will be recommended.

  • When the fracture is stable and not displaced (the bone cracks or breaks but retains it proper alignment) conservative management leads to a satisfactory outcome. It will involve sling immobilization for about two weeks followed by mobilization of the shoulder as soon as initial pain improves.
  • Surgery may be performed as an open or arthroscopic procedure. The goal is to restore bone alignment and secure the repairs with surgical hooks, wires, and sutures to fix the fracture. Dr. Jonathan Godin is skilled in the various procedures and will determine the most appropriate option for each patient. 

Dr. Jonathan Godin is a world-class surgeon and a leader in sports medicine. Trained at the renowned Steadman Clinic in Vail Colorado, he is fellowship trained in advanced arthroscopic and reconstructive surgical techniques for the treatment of complex orthopedic and sports related injuries. Contact him at his Vail, Frisco or Edwards Colorado office to schedule a consultation to receive the correct diagnosis and all your treatment options.

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